RAAK_Blog-Header_A guide to using emojis in email marketing

Special characters: annoying or worth your while?

You've more than likely seen them pop in a subject line. The sparkling ?, The dynamic ? or the lovely ?. Recently, marketers seem to have rediscovered the symbols and started adopting them in their subject lines. Their main motivation: it makes you stand out in the crowd.

And right they were! Email marketers who started using these symbols in a relevant way — as an extra asset to emphasize their story — saw an average of 15% more opens in comparison with their previous subject lines. However, there is a side story. The best way to get the most out of your subject lines is to adapt their structure on a regular basis. So, is it the symbol or rather the change in structure that makes the difference? At this moment, that's still unclear…

Want to give it a go and see if special characters work for your subject lines? Here are 5 tips to keep in mind…

First of all, what are those things?

Well, they're called Unicode Dingbat characters. For a list of characters and a brief description, check out our friends at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingbat

Are they always displayed?

Most of the time they are, even on smartphones. They can even be upgraded with colors. A black heart on a pc version can become a red heart on your iPhone. However some email clients or operating software change the characters to a ? or !, so make sure to test if it works on all systems and email clients.

How do I use them?

Well, make sure the character matches the message you're sending. If you're sending flight promotions, an airplane is a good option. If you're sending out an email and calling to follow up, a telephone symbol is relevant.

Don't use them in a generic way.

Spicing up your email with a star or heart seems like a fun thing to do, but the novelty factor wears off pretty soon. It can even become annoying or make your email look like spam.

Do or don't? 

Well, we would say: try it. It will bring some freshness to your subject lines and can boost your opened rates. But make sure to keep tracking those open rates and if you mark a decline, it may be time for a fresh structure.


Grasp the freshness of special characters to boost your opened rates, but make sure to change to a different structure if the novelty factor wears off.

Posted on
Jan 24, 2013